Locals Only

John Baldessari
John Baldessari, Buildings=Guns=People: Desire, Knowledge, and Hope (with Smog), 1985. © John Baldessari 1985. Image courtesy of The Broad Art Foundation, the Estate of John Baldessari, and Sprüth Magers.

A new group show at The Broad in Los Angeles zeroes in on the museum’s glossy yet troubled home turf. Sharing the name of a John Baldessari piece prominently featured inside the exhibition, “Desire, Knowledge, and Hope (with Smog),” which opens this weekend, visually focuses on LA as a city in flux—one with deep-seated issues that extend far beyond the pearly white letters of Hollywood sign—through painting, photography, sculpture, and political signage. Organized by curators Ed Schad and Jennifer Vanegas Rocha, 21 intergenerational artists are on view inside the Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed building in Downtown LA, all of whom were either raised in the city, such as Baladesari, Doug Aitken, Lari Pittman, and Mark Bradford, or relocated to it, as in the case as Catherine Opie, Ed Ruscha, and Mike Kelley. “The Broad collection works selected for this show span five decades,” the museum’s founding director Joanne Heyler said in a statement. “The works reflect Los Angeles’ growth as a nexus for artists and as a complex urban landscape to investigate.” Of particular note is Kelley’s Infinite Expansion, a six-part drawing superimposed acrylic on paper that is tied to a historical Museum of Contemporary Art performance in 1984 as well as Baldessari’s titular piece. A mixed-media work composed of black and white photography and vinyl paint over five mounted panels, the piece is beautiful—and frightening. 

“Desire, Knowledge, and Hope (with Smog),” is on view at The Broad at 221 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012 through April 7, 2024.